What we need: Laws that prohibit or restrict assault weapons, handguns and high-capacity magazines.
Canada, a gun-loving country, has gun control a lot like this. Citizens are allowed to own all the rifles and shotguns that they want. This just in: The universe has not imploded in Canada. You’ll no doubt be amazed to know they have lower rates of gun violence and murders than the United States.
Today I attempt a short bit of logic to rebut the nonsensical sound bites offered ad nauseam by the NRA.
The Second Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
–The version ratified by the U.S. Congress
Yes, there was more than one version. In addition to the one above there was a version ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State. Capitalization and a comma differed between the two versions. (Source: Wikipedia.)
I have two points to make. Since I’ve talked about this before, I’ll be brief and do it using less than 600 words.
First, the Second Amendment is no more special than any of the others. Amendments, like people, are created equal. There isn’t, for example, anything in the Constitution or our laws that states, “The Second Amendment is the most important one and supersedes other stuff.” Doesn’t exist. And there are limits placed on a lot of other amendments. There are many limits on free speech. And the Supreme Court has decided cases involving other amendments and cited the “greater good” when weakening protections in those amendments. An example of this is sobriety checkpoints in regards to our rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Conclusion: Some restrictions of the Second Amendment are permissible and consistent with the way we do things in this country.
Second, by definition, restrictions on the Second Amendment are already recognized as a matter of routine law.
I looked up the word “arms” in the dictionary:
arms: weapons and ammunition; armaments
–New Oxford American Dictionary
That’s a very broad definition. The amendment does not, for example, attempt to limit it’s protections to “firearms” or “guns.” As written, those things are just parts of a greater classification known as weapons.
Thus, we legally recognize that citizens do not normally have the right to possess other kinds of arms, like nuclear weapons. Or certain kinds of knives. Or explosives. Or homemade pipe bombs.
Why can’t I walk around town with a couple pipe bombs open-carried on my hip? “Did ya just call me yella, padner? BOOM.”
Using a standard of reasonableness our society has recognized the right to carry nuclear weapons, certain kinds of knives, explosives and pipe bombs should be prohibited. Further, even certain kinds of firearms are restricted, such as those that are fully-automatic.
Since this is all well established, the argument must shift from “the Second Amendment must not be subject to limitations of any kind” to “where will the regulation take place.”
The question is: Where should limits be placed? The argument about if there should be limits has already been long ago decided.
To answer that question, I think we should look to examples like Canada and set standards tighter than they are now. Prohibit or restrict assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and handguns. Require all weapons to be registered and all purchases subject to background checks. And require licensing, training and proficiency standards just like we do for the ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Call it common sense in the name of the greater good.